A moving story of men who fought first for the right to fight, and then went on to show a rare courage and tremendous spirit
WWII war correspondent Lyn Crost, who covered the Nisei soldiers throughout the war for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, offers a stirring but saddening account, an invaluable addition to the literature on Japanese Americans in World War II, providing the most comprehensive coverage of their military activities. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans faced prejudice and violence from a suspicious America. Yet even with their families incarcerated in internment camps, many Japanese American men fought for the right to join the US military. Crost offers an admiring history of Japanese Americans' contribution, chronicling their military service, the horrendous casualties they suffered, and the reputation they finally earned from many high-ranking officers as "America's secret weapon."
In the European theater of WWII, the Japanese Americans making up the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were so dependably fierce that, according to General Alfred Greunther, every division in the Fifth Army "insisted that the 442nd be assigned to it.'' The Nisei (second-generation) soldiers also distinguished themselves in other arenas. Japanese Americans had already stood to arms in defense of Pearl Harbor and volunteered by the hundreds and thousands as indispensable translators for military intelligence in the Pacific theater. Some of those intelligence operatives worked in occupied areas; others risked and sometimes lost their lives trying to persuade Japanese soldiers to surrender. In the Pacific, they were in constant danger of being mistaken by Marines for the enemy. While these Japanese Americans were defending the country of their birth, their families languished in concentration camps in the U.S., marked as "enemy aliens'' after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Crost's effort greatly increases knowledge of this aspect of Asian American history, even as it also increases outrage at the panic, bigotry, and outright criminality behind the placing of Japanese Americans on the home front in internment camps
Includes bibliographical references (pages 327-329) and index
Pu'uloa becomes Pearl Harbor -- Birth of the Legendary battalion -- Nisei of the MIS -- The killing fields of New Guinea -- The proving ground -- The struggle against odds -- The mountains of Italy -- The Purple Heart battalion of Cassino -- Secret warriors in Burma -- Anzio to Rome-and beyond -- An ocean red with blood -- Forests of death -- The Philippines recaptured -- Caves of Hell -- The champagne campaign -- Germany and the Death Camps -- Victory in Europe -- Okinawa : gateway to Japan -- Pearl Harbor avenged -- Echoes from the past